Amazing how people react.
Someone said they heard some “pops” in, of all places, a parking garage, they thought it was gunfire.
Suddenly, there are police and ambulances everywhere, streets are closed and offices are locked down.
Cable news programs throw up the “Breaking News” banner and start to speculate, maps of the area are displayed and anchors start to point to buildings and pretend to know how many exits there are from the garage, they interview people about where they parked. Google Maps are displayed, zooming into the area.
Within minutes, we have heard more about the Rayburn Senate Office Building parking garage layout than we ever wanted to know — for instance, that you enter on G3…
Drama! Senate committees close their doors because of gunfire in the building! Punditry! Experts tell us what the police are up to! Thrills! Tourists are breathlessly chased by TV reporters for quotes! Pathos! People worry that their Hummers might have been scratched! Wasted time! With the captions “LIVE” and “NEW VIDEO”, the cable stations are filling time with pointless pictures of people standing around, TRAPPED in sumptuous offices and committee rooms; any time now they will be like the Donner party — cut off from their usual lunch spots, they may soon turn on each other, with the Democrats being eaten first.
Mark my words, it will turn out to be car backfire (in a garage? How is that possible?)
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this level of attention was paid to every sound of gunfire, no matter where it was? Say, even 10 blocks away from the Capitol in Southeast Washington?
If I was the conspiratorial type [grin] I’d say that there was some news being quietly released today by the White House that is not a positive item (for instance, Bush and Blair timidly offering non-apologies for their mistakes), and that some Republican staffer was told to call in a vague report of “what sounded like gunshots” in order to dominate the news cycle. It also has the side effect of reminding everyone to be scared.
I am struck by the complete and utter pointlessness of cable news; I’m watching CNN right now for no apparently good reason other than the fact that the TV is on. I can’t even begin to list the silliness that passes for “journalism” here. Such a list would be endless.
Here’s a guy standing in front of a wall of video screens. One screen has a picture of the Capitol dome, one has a reporter live on the scene, and four screens are combined to show a Google map. And the guy actually called this sophisticated new technology. Um, a video wall? That invention of the 1980s? He then points out a blue dot on the Google map, which indicates where the reporter is speaking from. This is the multi-million dollar, international media version of “look! Here’s my house on Google Maps!”
Some reporter — with a modicum of intelligence and restraint — reports that a woman was transported in an ambulance, that she wasn’t shot and it was something unrelated — and instantly, a caption appears on the screen in all caps: WOMAN TAKEN AWAY IN AMBULANCE with no further context or important information.
Are there other things happening in the world today? For instance, what’s new with the Plame case? With Bush & Blair’s “missteps?” Or the confirmation of the architect of Bush’s domestic spying plan to be the head of the CIA? Why are they showing us, over and over, video of a committee chair telling people to close the door to the room? This is precisely how we reached a point where the Bush administration has learned to manipulate the media so well — they are so predictably mindless and anxious for any story that can be hyped.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that this is a drill for today’s (or tomorrow’s) tsunami that is due to wipe out the Atlantic coasts because of a comet fragment about to strike us.